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I am very excited to take on a new role as the Patron of Spurn Bird Observatory, which was central to my childhood and to my development as a naturalist. Here is the amazing Humber Estuary, on whose banks the observatory stands; as it did, forty years ago, albeit in a slightly different location. These expanses of mud and their shoreline are where I saw my first grey plovers, my first whimbrels, my first bar- and black-tailed godwits, my first jack snipe, my first hoopoe (the first, in fact, for Humberside: whatever happened to that county?) my first great grey shrike, first montagu’s harrier, first hobby, my first never-to-be-forgotten red-footed falcon. This image was taken immediately opposite the Crown and Anchor pub (first pint of Newcastle Brown: whatever happened to that?) You begin to get the picture. Spurn was important.

Just to prove what another millennium the 1970s were, I have not a single picture of our times there nor of my companions: Mark Beevers, Jim Lidgate, Jonathan Mycock, Nick Whitehouse (who lured me back) and a hundred other friends from that period. This is the best I can do. A photograph of me in my teens, bird notebook in hand. Having been to Spurn last month, I cannot wait to get back and celebrate what an atmospheric landscape and what an amazing spot it is for birds. Next February will bring up the fiftieth anniversary of our first visit. I’m looking forward to seeing you there …..

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